By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Nicaragua qualified for the 2023 San Salvador Central American and Caribbean Games, beating Honduras 13-1 in the championship game at the Central American Qualifier in Managua, Nicaragua.
The Central American Qualifier was held from Feb. 6-12 and featured Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras at Estadio Nacional Soberania. Nicaragua manager Sandor Guido saw this tournament as an opportunity to evaluate and build the roster for the World Baseball Classic next month, where they will play in Pool D against the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Israel from March 11-15 in Miami at Loan Depot Park.
The Central American and Caribbean games for the baseball event will have eight nations represented in San Salvador. Host nation El Salvador, as well as Cuba, Curacao, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela will participate in the Central American and Caribbean Games from June 25 to July 1. All games will be held at Saturnino Bengoa National Ballpark in the Avenida La Quebrada section of San Salvador.
Nicaragua’s pitching allowed one earned run during the Central American Qualifier. Starting pitcher Ronald Medrano went five innings with no earned runs, allowing two hits, walking one batter and striking out four. The bullpen for Nicaragua combined with three hits allowed, one earned run, one walk, and two strikeouts.
Cheslor Cuthbert helped Nicaragua get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning as he reached to first on a fielder’s choice scoring JD Motes for the first run of the game.
Nicaragua had a five-run inning in the bottom of the third when their offense compiled 11 hits in their 13 run outburst. Wullians Vasquez started the outpouring of runs with a single to right field as Montes came in to score to take a 2-0 lead. The next batter, Cuthbert, laced a double to left field as Isaac Bernard came in to score to extend the lead to 3-0. The next batter, Elian Miranda, struck a double to left field as Vasquez and Cuthbert came across to score to make it 5-0. Benjamin Algria joined the hit parade with a double down the left field line as Miranda came in to score the fifth run of the inning at 6-0.
Nicaragua’s pitching was fantastically dominant during the stretch of the home soil tournament for the Central American Qualifiers. Costa Rica and Honduras ended their qualifier appearance with a 3-2 record. Costa Rica took third place from Sunday’s Central American Qualifier third-place game, shutting out Guatemala 4-0. Guatemala finished with a 1-4 record and El Salvador ended up winless at 0-4 during the Central American Qualifier.
Nicaragua’s 13 runs weren’t just gravy – they outscored their opponents by 62 runs through the five games they played in the event.
Nicaragua built their roster with high minor league professional players during this tournament and could potentially use these players at the Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador as well.
Nicaragua will continue to train during the next few weeks with inter-squad scrimmages and potential prep games before flying to Miami for the World Baseball Classic on March 6.
Nicaragua will train at Jackie Robinson Complex in Vero Beach, Fla., on March 7, before playing two exhibition games. Nicaragua will play on March 8 against the New York Mets at 6:10 p.m. EST in Port St. Lucie and on March 9 against the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. EST in Jupiter. The tournament will start in Miami at Loan Depot Park on March 11 against Puerto Rico at noon EST on Fox Sports 2.